SA firms among world’s best

[Image] Sasol has been identified as one of the best
companies in the world.
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•David Cleasby
Bidvest Financial Director
+27 011 772-8706

•Maphamola Lebelo
MTN Group Communications
+27 83 212 9918

•David Hlabane
Sasol Media Communications
+27 11 441 3277

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Bongani Nkosi

Three South African companies have been recognised for their impact on global markets by making their way onto a list of the world’s top 40 firms.

They are mobile telecommunications giant MTN, energy and chemicals specialist Sasol and global services, trading and distribution group Bidvest.

The top-40 survey, released on 1 October 2009, was done by management consulting firm AT Kearney for US magazine BusinessWeek, and looked at 2 500 listed companies across 18 countries.

First on the list was Nintendo, the Japan-based electronics company, second was US internet search engine leader Google, while Apple, the US electronics and computer software firm, came third.

Qualifying criteria

To qualify for a ranking, companies had to generate at least US$10-billion (about R72-billion) in sales in 2008, of which at least 25% had to be derived from outside their base country. Companies were also judged on their five-year track record for sales growth and value creation.

MTN was seventh on the list, ahead of the world’s biggest mining company, BHP Billiton, which secured 10th place. Although it’s an Australian firm, the latter has a strong presence in South Africa.

Sasol, a multinational which produces a wide variety of chemical and liquid fuels, was 24th on the list. The company mines coal in South Africa and produces gas in Mozambique and oil in Gabon. It also has chemical manufacturing and marketing operations across the globe.

Bidvest, which employs more than 105 000 people in South Africa, made it to number 37. “Recognition such as this is satisfying at this particular time as our people have performed exceptionally well in the face of extremely trying trading conditions in many of our key markets,” Bidvest chief executive Brian Joffe said in a media statement.

“This accolade reflects their resilience in tough times, their spirit of innovation and their ability to spot opportunity in adversity. The survey salutes the group. I prefer to salute our people.”

According to the survey, Bidvest is an example of an emerging-market company poised to become a global player.

In 2009 the company’s total revenue topped about $15.39-billion (about R112-billion) drawn from interests in food service, freight logistics, outsourced services, industrial and commercial products, printing and related products and automotive retailing, said Bidvest

MTN, together with its subsidiaries, provides a range of mobile phone communication services. It recently announced a groundbreaking partnership with an India-based company to boost content for its 103-million users in 21 countries, mostly in Africa and the Middle East.

Winning strategies

Some of the strategies of the top companies, said AT Kearney, were a commitment to innovation, diversified portfolios, aggressive expansion, strong leadership and a clear vision.

BusinessWeek said technology and telecommunications companies are making great headway in global markets and they stood out in the survey.

“[They] have tapped into continuing demand for mobile phone services and new digital hardware and services, as well as heavy industry and engineering outfits benefiting from the uptick in infrastructure spending,” it said.